Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Student definitions of urban sustainability

The University of Auckland 21 July 2009
Class PLAN 332.

Where people can access daily needs within walking distance of 1km and public transport.

Using only what we need.

Minimising the environmental impact of cities

Develop the social, culture, environment and economy of communities and cities.

Urban development which is effective and efficient.

Managing growth and resources of cities to ensure that social, environment and economic needs of current and future generations are catered for.

Holistically viable city which meets the needs of residents and future residents and takes into account the environmental, social and economic and political factors.

40 comments:

  1. David Badham 4693262July 22, 2009 at 1:01 PM

    My experience with travel amounts to several jumps across the ditch and a number of visits to the South Pacific. Thus I consider that my knowledge of urban sustainability outside of New Zealand is somewhat limited. However I would like to highlight a reflection of mine from visiting the Sunshine Coast in Australia at the start of the year. I felt that the sprawl there was on another level. Everywhere there seemed to be new subdivisions and never-ending motorways adjourned by numerous large multinational fast food outlets. The sight was somewhat sickening to me. Tell me, is this urban sustainability?

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  2. I have been lucky enough to travel, and a large amount of this time I spent in Europe. Reflecting back on what I saw the times I have been there, with regards to urban sustainability it is the influence of time upon places. Those towns and villages which have existed for hundreds of years are a lot more compact, hence appear to be more sustainable urban forms. Advancements in technology over time has altered how new areas develop. This can be seen between prior industrial revolution and post industrial revolution places and spaces. Perhaps the sustainable vs. unsustainable urban forms?

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  3. the majority of my overseas experience would have been in Malaysia and its quite interesting for me to see certain similarities with NZ. In Kuala Lumpur specifically, there is evidence of suburban sprawl and connections via motorways, but the difference is that instead of large detached houses, its populated by High rise apartments and row housing, supplemented by large scale commercial outlets.

    to me urban sustainability seems to be (albeit) more economical, due to the efficiency of space used. just making a note on physical configuration between Auckland and KL.

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  4. I have no extensive travel experience since emigrating from South Africa to New Zealand in 1996. Having lived the first 9 years of my life in a country rife with development issues I have become very interested in the management of growth in areas of organic or unregulated growth, such as slums in Johannesburg and further reaching to the Favelas of South America. I have a particular interest in visiting Rio de Janeiro, both for the culture and a firsthand look at the urban sustainability implications of population displacement/poverty and general growth in areas with limited means of regulation.

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  5. Tsz-Ning CHUNG 4648015July 23, 2009 at 5:05 PM

    Most of my overseas travel and experience are in Hong Kong. The convenience of meeting the daily needs of work, school, health facilities and entertainment of the individual is undoubtedly provided for by the compactness attributed to Hong Kong. But the phenomenon of widespread apartment constructions causes one to question whether this is smart growth especially when green areas are rare, extensive reclamation of harbour-space is polluting the water and encroachment of modern buildings into heritage areas is seen. The economic reality may be undermining the other dimensions of urban sustainability mostly environmental quality, resource conservation and social aspects in Hong Kong.

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  6. My perception of Australia, through the window of Sydney, is that they are doing more in tackling urban sustainability than we are currently in New Zealand. Sydney has a sufficient population to efficiently run a well-connected public transport system – something that I believe is an important aspect of urban sustainability. The streets appear safer, during the day and at night, simply due to the number of people that use them. I am unsure of how the planning system works in Australia but there are probably sustainability strategies.

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  7. Cam Wallace (4335502)July 24, 2009 at 8:03 PM

    Having just returned from Rarotonga I have gained an interesting perspective on urban sustainability. Travelling around the island it is apparent that the idea of urban sustainability is different depending on place and space. Rarotonga and its inhabitants are still heavily reliant on producing their own food so individual houses are located on large plots with room to grow fruit and veg, they are also scattered all around the coast in order to be close to the sea to catch fish. In NZ this pattern of urbanism would be considered sprawl, however this decentralised pattern of living is essential to a sustainable form of living for the people of Rarotonga.

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  8. Liam Wang (4644700)July 26, 2009 at 12:55 PM

    I lived first half of my life in China and visited many Chinese cities. The urban development characteristics are fundamentally different between the two. Due to the large population many Chinese cities have become very compact in urban form, as high rise apartment is almost the only housing type in cities (Hong Kong as an extreme example).

    In such environment the urban sustainability is achieved through urban design concepts such as mixed use design and extensive public transport network.

    I think urban sustainability should be considered in a wider context rather than limited to the urban area itself, especially in terms of natural environment and food supply. It is impossible for a city with large population to be self sufficient on food therefore urban sustainability also depends on successful management of rural area to prevent urban sprawl threatening the food-producing land.

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  9. I was born in Hong Kong and have been travelled to most of the major cities in South East Asia, which majority are wealth and urbanised metropolis. Although these cities have very dense population, the term urban sustainability has sufficient difference across these places. for example, in Hong Kong, where land in Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island was scarce and could not meet the demand for future development. Hence, the government started to develop new suburbs in the outskirt of Hong Kong. Transit Oriented Development was the main forms of development for these new suburbs. Instead of building motorways, these suburbs were built along the railway, which encouraged residents to travel by train. Moreover, government imposed heavy duties and tax on car ownership, to further deject the willingness of people to drive.

    On the other hand, Beijing was facing a similar problem and urban sprawl started to happened. However, instead of encouraging people to use public transport, local goverenment built numbers of giant motorways that connected between the CBD and the suburbs. In addition to the already low duties and tax on car ownership (largely due to the government stimulate package on local automobile manufracturing), these had resulted high automobile dependency in the city.

    So in my opinion, land use planning has sufficient affect on urban sustainability.

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  10. My recent trip to North America allows me to experience its transport planning system. It changed my view of American transport planning. I found that apart from big cities like Chicago and New York, all other cities I visited, have under developed public transportation systems. Bus accessibility is limited to inside city centers. Majority of the buses are under utilized. Most of the people I talked to have agreed that owning car is not a luxury, it is a neccessity in the States. In my opinion, having a complete and well-designed public transport network is key to sustainability. It seems like there are a lot of opporutnity for sustainable public transit developement in North America.

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  12. Tsz Ning CHUNG 4648015July 27, 2009 at 6:10 PM

    Link to the photo

    Caption: widespread apartment constructions and extensive reclamation of harbour-space in Hong Kong

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  13. Jonathan KIm (4605701)July 27, 2009 at 6:47 PM

    Personally I have not travelled far outside NZ, although I have travelled our fair country extensively. I went to Aussie when I was younger, mainly to Camberra and Sydney.

    Looking at what others have said, transport systems show large variations even between local cities, with some areas having only buses and others having trains, trams, and other means of transport.

    I am looking forwards to finding out about the challenges to planning in other countries, as I am thinking of working in Europe after I finish my degree.

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  14. I have travelled quite extensively over Australia and have found places very interested in the way they have been planned. Like David, I found the urban sprawl and vast amount of new development overwhelming! Places like the Sunshine coast and Arlie Beach and under constant construction! When in the Gold Coast earlier this year, I found a show room on every block, showing plans and models of the latest high-rise apartment building! It was Crazy! I am looking forward to studying other countries in depth and how they deal with urban sustainability!

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  15. I am similar to some others posting comments here as i haven't been outside the antipodes, and the last time I went to Australia was 15 years ago.

    I have however lived without a car most of my life as I took to heart the idea that cars pollute and really aren't that good of an idea that I learned in Environmental Context of Planning all those years ago. I have experienced first hand Auckland's woeful (though definitely improving) public transport system as much as anyone without a car gets to. It has led me to believe that the only way to experience suburban amenities and also be more sustainable is to thoroughly change the way people move around. I live in North Shore City and just have to say, without a car here... well it's not pretty...

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  16. I have not been fortunate enough to travel extensively outside of New Zealand. However, I was able to visit Tokyo late last year.
    Thinking back, Tokyo was largely very compact, even in the suburbs, the houses were narrow and lacking large front and back gardens. This compactness would likely assist the effectiveness of Tokyo’s well connected public transportation system which in turn is important to urban sustainability. This public transport system allowed simple travel throughout Tokyo to the edge of Tokyo prefecture and even beyond that, from city to city through the use of the bullet train.

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  17. Andrew Shen (4584090)July 27, 2009 at 9:17 PM

    Having looked through some of the postings which talks about Hong Kong, I was reminded about my trip there this February. I felt that Singapore has a lot in similarities with Hong Kong in terms of the dense population, compactness of the built environment, high-rise buildings as the dominant building typology, etc. They even share some of the weaknesses. i think both governments are not doing enough on the environmental aspects or lacks the motivation/willingness to put enough focus on the environment. With the amount of land being limited and population increasing, working towards urban sustainability is becoming tougher by the minute.

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  18. Urban sustainability to me is the process of development in order to ensure a balance is created between the environment, economy and society. The overall goal or objective is to incorporate long term planning into urban developments and frameworks.
    A city that really appealed to me was Barcelona, not only was it a vibrant bustling urban environment but it also had some interesting methods to cater to urban sustainability of such a large city. What really caught my attention was the use of large traffic islands along boulevards which incorporated public open spaces. You could witness people spending their day ion the middle of the streets as cars drove by on either side, these traffic islands incorporated playgrounds, water features and games areas such as platonque. The utilisation of space to enable more public spaces for social interaction is what is interesting here and the fact that people felt completely safe whilst being sorrounded by traffic on either side. This was unlike anything i had seen before or think will ever see in New Zealand.

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  19. I have travelled extensively over the early part of my life the most impressive place in terms of urban sustainability would have to be Dubai. Dubai is a city which seems to have no boundaries and the only thing that is sustainable, from what i see is the large amount of capital the rich have and the large amount they are spending. I was told by a local 'you could have a 6 week holiday and not be able to find your house on returning due to the roads changing'. The city is made up of mega structures and roads. Urban sustainability is the last of this cities concerns.

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  20. To me, urban sustainability involves nourishing the urban environment - in the economic, social and cultural realms - which has potential to result in the future capability of cities to exist as pleasant and cohesive environments. A poor example of this is the greater Los Angeles area. There are pockets of extreme wealth and extreme poverty which don't coexist well in the city. The sprawl of the city is unbelievable and the smog is disguisting. This city has failed on environmental and social aspects, however has a strong cultural and (in part) economical base. However, to achieve urban sustainability - Los Angeles needs to be more holistic in its approach.

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  21. Having lived in sydney I feel I've been given a different impression of the urban sustainability of the area. While the public transit system operates better than the one we have in auckland, rush hour traffic is worse there. The huge amount of car parking that exists in the CBD and the motorways branching out into greater area which seemed blocked for 6 hours of the day, has left me with a sense of just how much resources we dedicate to private vehicles. Both land and oil etc. I believe Auckland has a better chance of high public transport patronage than Sydney, when you consider the distances along highways people seem to travel over there.

    Maybe as a tourist visiting inner sydney you'd feel safe at night walking the streets, but just like over here there are places that are definately unsafe. Anyone heard of Redfern for example? or many of the suburbs

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  22. In my opinion, “urban sustainability” is a concept of maintaining, managing and developing of urbanization for human-beings’ living to extend their history in the future, which covers several fields such as transport network connection; physical and social functional facilities and utilities; physical and natural environment and ecosystems; economic, cultural and civilization values; and potential and practical natural resources. Indeed, the big challenge is facing to how high density of population in the current cities.

    I am coming from Shanghai City of China and spending approximately 6 years-life in Auckland, New Zealand. I found that Shanghai and Auckland has a big contrast is the density of population, which dominates more big differences of each urban development reflecting on the urban spaces and formation of dwelling types (or building characters). Simply, as a typical city of the skyscrapers, Shanghai, which has a huge amount of high-rise apartments and some private and public open spaces as extreme high density of population. However, low-density population in Auckland results local residences can have sufficient space to live, such as a type of detached house.

    Therefore, the world has no uniform standard to regulate the urban sustainability, which must follow the details of country situation.

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  23. With the current state of the economy and the environment (worldwide) and the challenges this presents the societies and cultures around the world, urban sustainability is an issue which needs to be at the forefront of everyones thinking.
    My traveling experiences have been somewhat limited however, obvious to me is the fact that a change in the thinking and mindsets of the decision makers, developers, communities and individuals is necessary is the Auckland Region is to achieve urban sustainability. While there is not a defined state or urban sustainability, the current development practices in Auckland, the travel options, low density development and the sprawl this results in is definitely not achieving urban sustainability.

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  24. One aspect of urban sustainability is the way in which new buildings are integrated with the old. One city which I think has achieved this is Chicago. The cohesiveness of the streetscape and architecture is something which I have not experienced in any other city.

    Another aspect of the way in which Chicago is achieving urban sustainability is through the heavy investment in public open space. Millennium park was a significant investment for the city and provides with people who live there and tourists an area to meet and socialise.

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  25. In my most recent travels over the summer I visited Australia, (namely Sydney), Japan and Korea. This gave me the opportunity to experience new places, people and different urban environments such as the towering buildings in Tokyo and rural centers such as Matsumoto (Nagano province) my mothers home town. Experiencing a range of densities enabled me to gain insight into different building typologies and urban environments.

    This leads me to question if higher densities are environmentally sustainable i.e. are the adverse environmental affects greater than low denisty. ... maybe this is where low impact urban design comes in...

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  26. Carrying on from Cam, I also went to Rarotonga not too long ago. Through walking around the island, I saw that most households grew their own fruits and vegetables, and some farmed pigs in their yard. I also noticed that there were all sorts of fruits growing around the island which were available for everyone. I believe that Rarotonga is a good example of traditional views on urban sustainability, comprising of a self sustaining community and a mutual understanding and respect for the public and private realm. However, when I spoke with my resort manager, she talked about how most young people leave the island for education, excitement and better jobs. From this I concluded that the concept of urban sustainability should also include the above in order to become a place that attracts people on a long term basis.

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  27. To me, urban sustainability is a holistic approach toward minimising the effect cities have on the natural environment. I was surprised during a recent visit to Las Vegas at the city’s lack of intensification. Besides the high-rise hotels and casinos on Las Vegas Blvd, the majority of the urban environment is represented by one to two level homes, set out in similar residential pattern.

    Pressures associated with the current economic environment are noticeable throughout Las Vegas. From the air, the discontinued development of whole neighbourhoods is visible, as the foundations of roads and sections are left unfinished. In addition to which, there is hotel and casino development on hold. The evidence, large areas of vacant land surrounded by fencing and advertisements for proposed development.

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  28. In my opioin, the key to urban sustainability is to overcome automobile deoendence. urban density is critical to sustainble transport and how we achieve higher densities will largely determine how sustainble and livable the city will be. Developing compact town centres, neighbourhood centres and other urbna developments that are walkable and transit-oriented.

    Motoways also destroy the sustainbaility of cities, (typically in most Chinese cities)---which do not reduce congestion but promote greater car uses. Motoways and parking have negative environmental and social effects on the living standards of cities through their space consumption.

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  30. I have spent 2 weeks in the city of San Jose (CA, USA) during the semester break. As my opinion, San Jose has the common problem which most US cities/towns have, lack of public transportation system. It’s not common to see people walking alongside the streets in residential area. Carpools are used for 2 or more persons in one car, as most adult residents have their own vehicles.
    However, San Jose may be one of the most sustainable cities in the US. San Jose is called as the capital of solar energy. The city hosts numerous large solar manufacturers. Utility usages are fairly low in San Jose as its moderate climate and public conservation awareness.

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  31. In my opinion Urban Sustainability is about creating and maintaining strong communities. This is where people have access to their daily needs, a healthy environment is promoted through a variety of transport modes and sustainable everyday practices are encouraged. I think it is important to plan our physical environment carefully so that it is not wasted for the future.
    I have travelled to Australia when i was younger and just remember how cool i thought the city of Brisbane was. I remember the buildings and an artificial beach just out from the city centre. I'm looking forward to travelling, knowing what i know now. I'm sure i will appreciate the sights more than what i would have before i took up this course.

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  32. The concept of urban sustainability to me is a bit fuzzy. However, my interpretation of urban sustainability is minimising the effect urban environments have on the natural environment.

    I have a few travel destinations under my belt (Italy, USA and Australia), and have spent two years living in Australia on the gold coast.

    With the towering highrises and the highway running through the gold coast, this place to me was not a pretty sight. With high densities, drier summers, and large populations of tourists and residents on the gold coast, it makes me question the sustainability of this area. From a outside perspective, the urban development focuses on the economic gains from the likes of tourists.

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  33. I was born in Dandong, at the edge of North-Eastern side of China, which is also the border between China and North Korea. In my opinion, Dandong has relatively efficient public transpot systems airlines, highways, railways,etc.However, there are increasing amount of private vehicles within the city in recent years.The problems occurs as Dandong is the city with limited land size, there are increasing demand on car parks and the transportation system starts to collapse which makes the traffic in centre of the city is out of control during most time of the day.
    as the city grows, the transportation will be the major issue which will definitely effects the future generations.

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  34. Like Adam i think a well connected transit system is essential as we cant continue to just expand existing roads. This is neither sustainable or efficient. At the beginning of the year i went to Melbourne which demonstrated an effective and well connected city, there streets were large, open, clean and felt safe with well kept old buildings lining the sides. It was easy to get around with a choice of frequent buses and trams going in all directions and trains in easy to get to locations. To me this was completely different to Auckland where the CBD is hard to get around with traffic and parking proving to be very difficult. In most cases the public transport here is unreliable and has limited connections with other forms of transport to get to other areas. Effective and reliable public transport needs to be focussed on in order to reduce car dependency and improve the urban sustainability of our cities.

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  35. Urban sustainability to me is having interconnectedness within a region. It gives communities the ability to access their everyday needs within walking distance and things that are located further away are accessed through a well integrated transport system.

    I have travelled to a number of countries throughout the world and in my experience Barcelona gives a good example of achieving urban sustainability. It is an easy city to walk around and there is a strong sense of place when you are there, it also has a well run transport system including an efficient metro system.

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  36. Michael PritchardAugust 3, 2009 at 7:51 PM

    Urban sustainability is the basis for the development in the Dannemora area in East Tamaki, Manukau City. An attempt is being made to create a town of approximately 40, 000 people which incorporates many new urbanist principles whilst at the same time respecting the existing environment. The waterways have been enhanced as major features which have both practical and aesthetic qualities. The CBD will be centrally located and surrounded by a large park which again will be surrounded by residential areas of decreasing density towards the outer areas. Emphasis is placed on internal walkability to lower the dependability on private car use with both rail and road links to surrounding town centres. The underlying principle is to encourage a user friendly living style which reduces the dependability on limited resources.

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  37. Sustainability has always been a word that I could not define specifically, expect I only have a vague idea of it. Trying to apply it to a country I have been has challenged my knowledge on its definition. I have recently visited Korea over last Christmas, like all major cities Seoul is an intensively development area dominated by skyscrapers. Through my eyes I think Seoul has tackled sustainability issues through providing a well designed efficient and affordable public transportation system with transit oriented mix-use residential buildings in order to prevent urban sprawl and accommodate the growing population. The public transport system is designed to be more convenient than driving a car and most areas are pedestrian oriented where cars have no access to back roads from the main roads. However provisions of open spaces or environmental impacts such as health issues seem to be neglected over economic values. For example Seoul seems to be a economically oriented city rather than a sustainable city that can provide its own source of food, water, renewable energy etc..

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  38. Coming back to this concept of urban sustainability at the end of this course I still think it is hard to put an exact definition to it. There are so many cities in the world that are under different pressures such a government controls, environmental issues, population growth and movement, that it is hard to apply one definition of urban sustainability to them all.
    What I have found interesting in this course however, is finding out how different countries and cities are dealing with the issue of urban sustainability.

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